Type: Self guided | Price: from £240 for 2 nights | Dates: Any | Nights: 2-5 | Stay: Hotel/B&B/Inn | Grade: Moderate | Car-free: Yes
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A magical few days exploring the best of the Cotswolds, in some of the country’s most stunning unspoilt landscapes. Enjoy varied walking through delightfully honey-coloured stone villages and gently rolling countryside well away from the crowds. Throughout you will encounter the most extensive panoramas imaginable. The area is steeped in history, all the walks being interspersed with features of historical and architectural interest. To experience the best that the Cotswolds varied scenery has to offer, we suggest combining the Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire Cotswolds.
Kingham (Oxfordshire Cotswolds): The B&B, Moat End, is a beautiful converted barn with 4 stars and an AA breakfast award. Our recommended hotel, The Mill House, a converted watermill, dates back to 1086 and is renowned for the quality of its food at reasonable prices and its delightful setting in ten acres of grounds.
Winchcombe (Gloucestershire Cotswolds): Our recommended B&B, One Silk Mill Lane, does not have a website but if you look it up on Trip Advisor, you will see that people love it and it has consistently high reviews. Jenny, the owner, is a natural hostess and has always been extremely popular with our clients. If you prefer the atmosphere of an old inn, we recommend the 15th century Lion Inn. It has been wonderfully restored in recent years. Finally, we also highly recommend one of our personal favourites, 15th century Wesley House, a former merchant’s house renowned for its restaurant.
Please note that availability in the Cotswolds is always limited; therefore early booking is recommended.
Price per person: from £210 for 2 nights – £580 for 5 nights, depending on choice of accommodation, room type and season, based on 2 people sharing a twin/double. Please enquire for single occupancy or car-free rates.
Having settled in to your accommodation, we recommend our short walk around historic Kingham (Oxfordshire) or Winchcome (Gloucestershire) dining at your chosen restaurant. Our route guides you around the best of the village, explaining something of its history and highlighting its important features.
We include a short taxi ride to delightful Cornwell, a village admired for its manor house and secret church. Narrow lanes and field paths lead to an ancient Iron Age site. On to explore five extraordinarily pretty golden-stone villages, huddled in tranquil wooded valleys. There’s idyllic Adlestrop, immortalised by Edward Thomas and Jane Austen. In each village, clothed in honey-coloured stone, are ancient churches and grand houses, including Chastleton House, a Jacobean gem nestling in a gloriously tranquil, unspoilt setting.
Lunch at the Fox at Oddington to savour the delights of a particularly imaginative menu and real ale. Finally, don’t miss Lady Bamford’s Daylesford Organic Farm where, time permitting, you could indulge in a cream tea. (9 miles/14 km, moderate walking with few gradients)
Lovely Lower Slaughter is noted for its magnificent gabled manor house and beautiful riverside setting. Upper Slaughter has a ford, ancient church and another magnificent manor house. This is quintessential Cotswolds, real England pure and simple. The sounds of babbling brooks accompany you as you traverse a landscape bisected by sparkling streams.
After lunch at Bourton-on-the-Water explore the village, crossing its many bridges, before meandering through more lovely landscapes to picturesque lakes. Return to Lower Slaughter to conclude your wanderings on the sloping riverside lawns of the 17th century Washbourne Hotel, perhaps indulging in a cream tea! (7 miles/11 km, moderate walking with very few gradients)
We recommend following our short, self-guided tour of historic Winchcombe, another of the Cotswolds Highlights. Learn how it was once the capital of Mercia and one of the earliest Saxon boroughs as well as a flourishing Cotswold wool town. Architecturally, it’s a romantic mix of cascading gables, mansard roofs, mullioned windows and stone towers set in attractive streets of stone and half-timbered buildings.
Today it remains unspoilt, delightfully set in a great bowl of rolling hills, a perfect, self-contained working town rather than a tourist showpiece. Undoubtedly it is the perfect location for walking the Northern Cotswolds. Enjoy a perfect end to your day by dining at one of our recommended restaurants.
Today’s ancient trackways combine splendid scenery with outstanding historical appeal. Discover the exquisite and totally unspoilt villages of Stanton, Stanway and Snowshill. All are set in a classic Cotswold landscapes where the works of nature and the works of man merge magnificently together in perfect harmony. Highlights include clusters of exquisite cottages of golden stone, a fine medieval tithe barn, an incomparable manor house and impressive gatehouse, one of the architectural treasures of the Cotswolds.
A splendid afternoon ridge walk on the Cotswold Way provides glorious views across Broadway to distant horizons as far as The Malvern Hills and the Vale of Evesham. Back at Stanton, the beautifully-situated Mount Inn beckons for a farewell drink before returning to Winchcombe. (7 miles/11.25 km, Moderate)
From Winchcombe, follow in the footsteps of pilgrims to the romantic ruins of atmospheric Hailes Abbey, once a popular pilgrimage centre. Visit Hailes Church, noted for its internationally important medieval wall paintings. Exquisite Farmcote has an enchanting Saxon church, a haven of utter peace, golden without, whitewashed within, well worth a visit. The wild, wide valley’s banks brim with wild flowers, a perfect place for a picnic.
Views stretch across the Severn Vale to the Malvern Hills and the blue line of the Welsh Marches beyond. Historic Sudeley Castle is another of our Cotswolds Highlights with its numerous royal connections spanning a thousand years. Here, time permitting, you can visit St Mary’s Church, final resting place of Catherine Parr, and enjoy award-winning gardens and a cream tea on the terrace before strolling back to Winchcombe. (7 miles/11.25 km, Moderate).
The routes are suitable if you are in good health and can walk between 7 and 9 miles on varied terrain for up to 5 hours, interspersed with short stops to read your commentary notes. We recommend lunch stops on each day and also places for morning coffee or afternoon tea where available. The countryside is gently undulating; therefore expect a number of ascents and descents.
By rail: Regular rail service from London to Cheltenham and onward travel by bus or taxi .
By road: 94 miles from central London. Just over 2 hours via the M40 and A40
Just wanted to thank you very much for another excellent weekend. I am so grateful for the careful organisation of the walks, the accommodation and the excellent meals. These weekends away are a real tonic and I’m looking forward very much to my next walk with Country Walks.